UX & Testing: 3 Real-Life UX Lessons -Part 1
The key differentiator that distinguishes good software from outstanding software is the user experience. Software testers should go beyond just checking the functionality of the product. Software Testing is one of those fields where the more you know the better it is. Testers need to be generalists to be effective at work, someone with broad knowledge across many topics and expertise in a few.
User experience is not the only responsibility of the UX team. As a tester, you use the software more frequently than anyone else on the team. You can add significant value by identifying features that compromise the User Experience(UX). As a tester/Quality engineer, you are in a great position to evaluate the UX of the software right from the earliest stages of software development and well within the stages of software testing.
I discuss some fascinating real-world examples of poor UX and how they affected me in this two-part article. These examples will teach you a few UX principles that you can apply in your everyday testing. So let’s get started.
Table Of Contents
WHAT DID A TEA CUP TEACH ME ABOUT USER EXPERIENCE?
There’s nothing like a hot cup of tea to lift your spirits and warm your heart when you’re having a rough day. In my hometown, I visited a popular cafe known for its wide selection of teas. The cafe served tea in a cup that looked absolutely stunning and classy. However, I was unable to enjoy my tea as it was difficult to grip the handle of the cup due to its poor design.
The handle had no slit to grab the mug to provide a secure grip. Because the cup was heavier than normal, it was even more inconvenient to hold it with hot tea. Because I was afraid of dropping the teacup, I had to remain cautious at all times. Furthermore, the cup’s design is not ideal for older people with hand tremors or individuals with reduced strength or flexibility in their hands.
A good design should support the user’s in completing their primary goals. In this case, although the cup looks appealing, it is compromising usability and accessibility. This is a classic example of what can happen when you prioritize aesthetics over functionality and simplicity.
This cup reminded me of ‘Coffeepot for Masochists’. Don Norman’s incredible book “The Design of Everyday Things” mentions it and uses it as the book’s cover image. ‘Coffeepot for Masochists’ is the most famous item in Jacques Carelman’s ‘Catalogue of unfindable things’, which contains delightful examples of everyday things that are deliberately unworkable.
LESSON 1 – DO NOT COMPROMISE ON FUNCTIONALITY FOR AESTHETICS.
Many people believe that design makes software look visually pleasing. The visual appeal of your application can help you stand out from the rest of your competition. But you may be making the same mistake that the cup designer made. We all adore eye-catching interactive websites. However, the most important aspect of a usable design is Functionality. Always put the user at the center of everything that you do.
Is your product choosing Visuals Over Functionality?
Is focusing on flashy interfaces over interactions?
As a tester, ensure that the products you work on consider usability and accessibility in the design to provide the best user experiences. I don’t mean to imply that aesthetics are not important. Users expect both beauty and function from your application. Help your team to strike the right balance between aesthetics and functionality.
HOW POOR DESIGN RUINED MY MOVIE EXPERIENCE
One of the best ways to spend quality time with your family is to watch a good movie while enjoying a large bowl of popcorn. On a Saturday, I decided to take my wife to the movies. Unfortunately, we were late that day and had to rush into the theatre to make it on time. I had booked the tickets via a popular online platform.
I pulled out my phone and found the m-ticket(digital ticket) in the bookings section of the mobile app. We rushed to our screen and found our seats. We watched the movie for around 15 minutes. We couldn’t figure out anything that was going on in the movie.
I realized something was wrong. I soon figured out that I had entered the wrong room/screen, and unfortunately, the same movie was playing in the second half, following the intermission.
We had entered Screen 2 instead of Screen 4. We then had to rush back to screen 4. I not only missed the first crucial 30 minutes of the movie, but I also had to deal with an angry wife.
In the rush and excitement of making it on time, I misunderstood the number 2 on the ticket for the screen number, which in fact, was the number of tickets purchased. I know I made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes under pressure or excitement or when you rush.
LESSON 2 – SIZE MATTERS IN THE VISUAL HIERARCHY
The biggest text in the m-ticket is the number ‘2’, which is the number of tickets. I know I bought two tickets, and that is not a piece of helpful information for me. Unless the designers didn’t design this for the person who checks tickets at the entrance.
The positioning of elements according to their significance is known as the visual hierarchy in the design. Without a visual hierarchy, users can be overwhelmed and therefore fail to grasp anything.
Larger elements on the screen will always catch the eye of a viewer. So the most important piece of information should take precedence in the visual hierarchy. When it comes to movie tickets, the most crucial information is the date, time, screen, and seat number. So these details should be bigger and the first thing you should notice.
When your design has a poor visual hierarchy, users are confused, uncertain about where to look, or even misguided.
While testing your software, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the first thing you see on your application? Where does the eye naturally go?
- What actions do we want our users to take? Are we able to draw their attention to that place?
- Is the visual hierarchy guiding them through a journey we want them to?
As a tester, always keep the audience’s needs in mind and help create designs that will have the desired impact.
Poor design can have serious consequences. Remember how Steve Harvey announced the wrong Miss Universe on stage? It is the design of the announcement card that IS to blame. Modern-day users often suffer from information overload. A thoughtful design should prevent users from making mistakes.
LESSON 3 – MATCH BETWEEN THE SYSTEM AND THE REAL WORLD
Jakob Nielsen’s second Usability heuristics discusses the “Match between system and real-world.” The heuristic states, “The design should speak the users’ language. Use words, phrases, and concepts familiar to the user”.
The designs should follow real-world conventions, making information appear in a more natural and logical order. It is in our nature to seek familiarity. We create mental models of systems work based on past experiences with real-world objects. As a result, we also bring those interpretations into the digital world.
Almost every software you use today uses this principle. For example, we’re all familiar with the trash can, so when we see a similar trash bin icon in the user interface, we know we can drag a file to delete. Compass, Calendars, Calculators, clocks, Notes, and Book Readers are some other applications that look like objects in their physical world.
Before we conclude, here are a few amusing examples of poor design.
I believe I need not explain why I poured curd into my tea.
It’s no surprise that the lights come on while someone is at the sink.
Participate in the design phase and try to contribute as much as possible. Think like a user and help your users achieve their goals when interacting with your product. A good UX gives your users a compelling reason to use your product. There is no better way than to learn from your real-life experiences. Learn from the design mistakes of others and ensure that your product avoids them.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Lot more coming in part 2; stay tuned! Share your personal experiences with poor design in the comments section below.
Testsigma offers the finest in its class user experience, that will enable you to step up the pace of your test automation.
Read more about Mobile usability testing here: https://testsigma.com/blog/mobile-usability-testing-what-is-it-and-how-is-it-done/